"All panelists agreed a simple way to future-proof a multifamily investment property is to keep your data options open."
You’ve heard of baby-proofing, but did you know that there is also such a thing as future-proof? The concept does not necessarily involve protecting your investment properties from the future, but it requires preparation for the future. During a panel at the third annual IMN Middle Market Multifamily Forum Southeast in Orlando, Florida, five industry leaders discussed the concept of future-proofing in class A, B, and C properties.
Zego CEO Adam Blake asked the panelists how apartment owners can future-proof to get the best ROI. Panelists agreed that in every asset class, smart home technology is an asset and an entry point for attracting residents. However, that technology does not necessarily manifest as the trendier products available in the Internet of Things.
Future-Proof with Smart-Home
“The key is the access [to the residence]: the locks,” said Debbie Kimball, senior account manager for PointCentral. She noted that although most property managers tend to assume residents will find energy-saving smart-home technology attractive. In reality, most residents want the ability to track the “data” on who enters and leaves their home. “According to the 2017 National Multifamily Housing Council/Kingsley Renter Preferences Report, a high percentage of [potential renters] say they are very interested in security and smart-home features, like smart locks,” noted Noel Arvizu, a security expert from ADT also attending the event. According to Arvizu’s data, more than half of renters placed a high value on smart locks.
From a management perspective, Jeff Adler, vice president at Yardi Systems, added, the most valuable smart technology is water monitoring. This enables property managers to identify situations where properties are threatened by water damage. “You may not save money on water [usage], but you will save money when a water heater bursts on the third floor,” Adler said. He added on a more futuristic front, “Eventually, multifamily businesses may be able to generate their own electricity or create additional land [through] shared vehicle programs” that would eliminate parking.
All panelists agreed a simple way to future proof a multifamily investment property is to keep your data options open. “Residents want to choose their own wifi,” said Kimball. “5G is going to be kind of a necessity, so keep your current contracts short,” Adler concluded.